Work, eat, sleep and repeat – pretty much sums up my life during the week really. As doctors we both regularly work weekends (and other unsociable hours) so we’ve come to treat those weekends when we aren’t on call as mini-breaks. Long weekends are perfect for throwing a bag in the car and hitting the road in search of new adventures. There are so many great escapes from Brisbane but you may not hear about them if they are not on the Gold or Sunshine Coasts. The Bunya Mountains is one such place.
Bunya Mountains National Park lies a little over 200km north-west of Brisbane and south of Kingaroy and Nanango. To get here, drive north along the Bruce Highway towards Caboolture and take the D’Aguilar Highway all the way to Kingaroy. Kingaroy is Queensland’s peanut capital (you may want to drive past here if you have a nut allergy ;p) and the largest town in the region. As you follow the highway into the township, you will find the aptly named Peanut Van on the left hand side which sells peanuts in all their nutty glory. Turn right at the end of the highway to check out the imposing peanut silos – Kingaroy’s most famous sight. If you have time, pop into the Kingaroy Art Gallery across the road (situated next to the Visitor Information Centre). On the other side of town is Taste South Burnett, a little store which proudly showcases local wines and cheese, gourmet fare and of course, the infamous Kingaroy Fudge. We had planned to sample one of their cheese platters in the alfresco dining area outside but the heavy rain had other ideas. Instead we had to settle for a selection of Kingaroy Fudge to be enjoyed later, and hit the road. A short drive from Taste takes you to Mt Wooroolin Lookout where you can enjoy fantastic views of the region (obviously best enjoyed on a clear day devoid of rain and mist).
Determined not to succumb to the lure of McDonalds, we took the Bunya Highway north out of Kingaroy to our next destination: Crane Wines. This boutique winery was the perfect place to sample a local cheese platter whilst enjoying views over the vineyard.
Refuelled and recharged, it was time to begin the 60-minute journey to the Bunya Mountains via the Bunya Highway. The road into the national park is steep and narrow with the final stretch consisting of white-knuckled ride along a single lane. There are several accommodation options on the mountain itself ranging from camp sites to self-contained units and chalets. We stayed at The Bunyas in a 3-bedroom chalet which was large but a bit run down. The Bunyas provide linen and toiletries but you need to bring your fire-starting skills with you or risk freezing: the chalets do not have central heating. We spent most of our evening trying unsuccessfully to get the lone log left in the woodpile to catch alight – several newspapers and dried Bunya pine branches later, we managed to get a meagre fire going before heading out for dinner at Lyrics (the on-site restaurant). The food (particularly the molten chocolate pudding) was delicious. Unfortunately our little fire had died out by the time we got back so we were very glad to see The Bunyas also provide electric blankets for each bed.
The following morning we woke to clear blue skies, sunshine, and crisp mountain air. Having burnt off a few calories from shivering yesterday, it was time for breakfast at Elz Bistro which serves up delicious and simple fare in country-sized portions that you can enjoy whilst watching the local wildlife.
After breakfast, grab a tray of bird seed ($5 per tray) from the General Store next to Elz and feed the rosellas and cheeky king parrots. If you have time, take a short stroll through the adjacent rainforest and marvel at the Bunya pines towering above. There are also several lookouts nearby that offer expansive views over the region.
Take Bunya Mountains Road back to the Bunya Highway and make your way back to Kingaroy. We stopped to check out Mt Wooroolin Lookout before getting onto the D’Aguilar Highway towards Brisbane. About 10 minutes along the highway is Pottique, a working pottery and lavendar farm that is so quintessentially French you would be forgiven for thinking you were in the south of France. The main entrance takes you through two barns filled with pottery, china, linen, dried lavender and French-style country furnishings. There is a 3rd barn behind the garden devoted solely to lavender products. The little cafe sells a myriad of lavender-inspired items including scones, cheese (yes, you read that correctly), and ice cream. We settled on the lavender parfait which we enjoyed in the quaint country garden but it was a bit too lavendery for me. The garden opens out into the surrounding fields but there weren’t endless rows of purple to be seen as the growing conditions have been quite harsh this season.
From Pottique, head back on D’Aguilar Highway towards Nanango. The streets of Nanango are lined with charming old buildings and chain-saw sculptures (a nod to the town’s timber-milling past) but there is little else to see here. The D’Aguilar Highway leads you back to Brisbane and home.
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